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Nick Had A Perfect Set of Pipes and the Best Hair in the Business

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My best friend died today, and I’m surprised at what saddens me more than anything else: that more people didn’t have the opportunity to know Nick Charles.

Diagnosed with stage four bladder cancer two years ago, Nick passed away Friday night at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His wife Cory and five-year-old daughter Giovanna were at his side. He is also survived by his children from previous marriages, son Jason and daughters Melissa and Katie.

Nick was five days shy of his 65th birthday. I suppose that one man’s life is no more significant than another’s, but to deny that Nick was special would be foolish. Nick often said that you judge a man by how he treats someone who can do nothing for him. He was generous of spirit and overflowing with life, and if you spent five minutes with him, chances are it was an impressionable, if not meaningful, encounter.

 Born Nicholas Charles Nickeas, Nick was the son of a Chicago cab driver. He drove a cab himself while attending Columbia College Chicago and years later would identify with boxers who had lifted themselves from humble beginnings. He was the very embodiment of a self-made man, a man’s man, and a good man.A perfect set of pipes and the best hair in the business undoubtedly helped Nick succeed in television, but his warmth, which viewers instantly felt, and his natural curiosity, which they instantly sensed, separated him from most other broadcasters.

Nick’s first job came in 1970 at a television station in Springfield, Illinois. In addition to covering sports, he taped weekly farm reports. During one live shot, a wolf urinated on his leg.No, I can’t imagine either. Next came a quick ascension: sports anchor jobs in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and in June 1980, a move to Atlanta, where Nick helped launch CNN. He and co-anchor Fred Hickman were daily presences for 17 years. Their chemistry was palpable. Nick worked everything from the World Series and the Kentucky Derby to the Goodwill Games in Moscow and the big fights in Vegas. He did roadwork with Ali and became a confidant of George Steinbrenner. His favorite sports were boxing and horse racing, which proves that he had taste as well as talent. But to define Nick by his work in sports is ridiculously narrow. He was a world traveler; his knowledge of subjects as diverse as dogs, economics, cooking, and classical music was comprehensive; and then there was wine. He talked about it, shopped for it, and drank it with unyielding passion. I can’t recall how many hours I spent by his side while he painstakingly searched for a top-level Cabernet during boxing stops in New Town, North Dakota, Concho, Oklahoma, or Sault St. Marie, Michigan. I began working with Nick at CNN in the mid-‘90s. In 2001, we were teamed as broadcasters for the new “ShoBox” series on Showtime. It took him about a show-and-a-half to become one of the best blow-by-blow announcers the sport has ever known.Nick’s enthusiasm and energy made every show seem like our first. He was never happier than when ringside.

Nick lived a public life, so perhaps it was fitting that he chose to battle cancer in front of the cameras. His message was a simple one: We’re all going to die. Until that happens, keep doing what makes you happy, focus on the short term, and love those closest to you with all your heart. In all our conversations, I never heard Nick once say he was scared to die. His spirituality gave him comfort, and his grace gave it to others. At the end, Cory told me he looked better than at any point since his diagnosis. There can be only one explanation for that: He was truly at peace. During his battle with cancer, Nick recorded video diaries for Giovanna, to be played once a year on her birthdays. In time, she’ll realize what a lucky girl she was to have Nick as a father. I already know how lucky I was to have him as a friend. If there was a lesson we all learned from Nick during his courageous battle, it was to embrace life no matter how dire the circumstances. Nick’s motto was “Love what you’re doing.”

 In keeping with that, Nick and Cory designated the charity World Vision and TEACH NOW to make donations in Nick’s memory. To donate online, please click on this link: http://bit.ly/ixmnpy

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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